How we save over $5000 on food

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Are you tired like N-dog here, of constantly finding yourself stressed out while standing in the grocery store, not knowing what you`re going to have for dinner? Do you want to save more money on food?  Are you tired of eating industrial, un-healthy food? Then keep on reading!

So.. this is embarrassing, but a couple of years ago, when BF and I moved in together, we both lived in small spaced dorms and shared kitchen with a lot of random (and semi-crazy) people, so we didn`t like to spend much time in the common room, which means that we didn`t think about how much money we wasted on food. We went to expensive grocery stores because it was more convenient, we bought easy expensive industrial food,  and shopped every day. Neither of us thought about how much we were really spending.

But then we moved into a house together and I started paying attention to what I ate due to my Fibromyalgia. That was 3 years ago, and I`ve had a steep learning curve and saved so much money! Approximately $5300 a year! That`s A LOT of money. We used to spend more about $900(!!) on food a month. I know, I know, but I did warn you, it was not my finest hour.

Now we`re spending about $450 a month. I guess that many of you are now thinking that $450 is still high, but unless you`ve ever visited Norway and seen how incredibly expensive it is, you have no say. Food is rediculously expensive. Here are some examples to give you an idea how the cost levels; a loaf of bread costs $7, 0.2 gallon of milk costs $2.50, 12 eggs cost $7.50. By following the things I´ve mentioned here, we are saving over $5000 a year on groceries!

The way we save so much money on food is this:

Meal Plan – There really isn`t any excuse not to meal plan. Use the internet, cook books, your imagination, your hunger, and set aside 30 minutes in the weekend to decide next week`s meals. I do weekly meal plans, this way it doesn´t get too overwhelming, and we manage to do all our shopping in one turn (we don´t have a car, so we have to carry all our groceries… AND we live on top of a hill…). Keep a notebook where you write down all the meals, and after a while you`ve got an easy go-to list when making meal plans!

Use what you already have– Like I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, remember to use what you´ve already got in the cupboards. If you find yourself holding a random ingredient and don`t know what to make of it, there are several recipe making websites that can help you, such as Super Cook where you add your ingredients one by one, and it generates various recipes based on your ingredients.

Basic Kitchen Skills – If you don`t know how to cook, this is the time. Use the internet, your mom, or friends that know how, and learn some basic kitchen skills, because I can promise you, it`ll save you money, like, loads of money. AND it`s also much healthier to cook from scratch, as the food you make won`t contain random additives or unneccessary amounts of salt, sugar and fat. You get to be the boss of the ingredients! Wouldn`t it be nice to be able to bake pita breads, sandwich breads, dinner rolls, or make lovely pasta sauces, stews or even sunday dinners?

Freezer – To maximize your savings, you really need some freezer space. We have a big freezer that we actually got as a housewarming gift from BF´s parents, but we were thinking of buying one anyway, as it would have be a good investment. With a freezer you can freeze down portion sized food that can easily be defrosted and heated up again, all types of breads, berries, left overs, and so on.

Buy in Bulk – If you come across a non-perishable food item on sale that you use a lot anyway, buy in bulk, and always buy big economy sized items if it`s possible to separate and freeze down.

Generic Brands – There`s no need to spend extra money on a certain brand when the ingredients are the same. I always chose the grocery store`s brand, which is about 1/3 of the fancy brand. This applies to toilet paper, cotton pads, hand soap and such also.

What are your ways to save money on food?

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15 thoughts on “How we save over $5000 on food

  1. I was in shock when I visited Norway last summer at the price of food. We rented a place to cook at home and save on restaurants, but even there it was hard to make cheap meals. $450 seems really low for such an expensive place. Well done!

  2. Wow! Those are significant savings. Good for you – saving money AND eating healthier too. Are there farmers or growers markets in Norway? If so, are the goods pretty reasonable in price? I am really excited for the warmer weather here in my town so I can start buying produce from the local growers! I’m always interested in how prices here compare to other areas around the world.

  3. Cool post. Learning how to cook (even how to just cook leftovers to make them interesting) is a wonderful skill that’s like riding a bike….learn it once and it repays you over and over.

  4. Wow, that’s a lot for a dozen eggs – I usually only eat egg whites, but I would use up the whole egg in that case. I agree about meal planning, you end up using a lot of what you have in the kitchen more efficiently. N-dog is so cute!! 🙂

  5. OMG, the prices there are so high! I hope the wages are higher to compensate! I feel bad spending $300.00 a month for one person (and dog), but it’s expensive trying to eat healthy! I know everyone says it isn’t, but for me it is. That is awesome that you have saved so much. I need to put more focus on saving money on food, I will get right on that 🙂

  6. That’s impressive savings and those prices are downright frightening! When I lived in Norway my host family ate a LOT of potatoes… as in we had potatoes every night!

    Anyhow, I’m currently doing a little grocery challenge. I got inspired by Lili over at Creative Savv (http://creativesavv.blogspot.com/) who feeds a big family on a tiny, I mean TINY budget. Anyhow she has a technique of shopping at a variety of stores and only buying what’s on sale at each one. I’m just starting my second month of the challenge – the first month was more of an information gathering month, and this month I’m gonna see if I can stick to a “food stamp” budget – ie. spend only the amount that a person living on food stamps would get. In my area that comes to $137/month.

    We’ll see how I do, but so far it’s promising!

  7. It ain’t cheap to be a Norwegian! It’s commendable then that you were able to cut your grocery bill in half. We try to cook large batches so we have leftovers and we also choose a day, usually Sunday to cook a couple of different dishses to last during the week. We tend to stock on items we use regurlarly when they go on sale.

  8. I’ve heard food is expensive there and believe me, I’m paying 340 at least for just myself, so I have no say whatsoever! I find shopping more often and in smaller amounts help me not waste food. As much as I’d like to meal plan, I know it doesn’t work for me, so I buy small amounts so food doesn’t go to waste. It’s just what works for me.

  9. Nice post. Have you considered growing your own food, like having a potted plant on the windowsill? Growing basic herbs. I liked your tips and ideas. I don’t know how I’d cope if the food was that expensive over here! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Pingback: Top Personal Finance Articles #8 - MPB Personal Finance

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